Monday, June 1, 2015

2015 Forests and The Economy Symposium

Date of Visit: May 27, 2015 
Type of event:  Symposium
Topic: 2015 Forests and The Economy Symposium
Organizers: Investigate-West and the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication
Location: Portland, Oregon
International Fellows: Stuty Maskey (Nepal), Sarita Lama (Nepal), Miguel Sanchez (Bolivia), Robert Mijol (Malaysia)
WFI Staff: Shadia Duery / International Fellowship Manager, Eric Vine / Executive Director

The Portland symposium featured leading experts that discussed innovative ideas and policy proposals for managing Oregon's forests.

The Missing Middle: Toward a Model of Sustainable Forestry for Oregon’s Private and Public Forestlands 
Sustainable forestry was defined as mimicking natural processes to attain long term forest health, managed for multiple values to meet human needs without degrading the resource.

Issue: Of the 4.3 million acres of family forestland is 1.9 is inside or within 1 mile of an urban growth boundary.
Q. How to compensate private owners to avoid having to change land use?
A. Aggregate small forestland owners to compensate them as a group. Embrace a landscape view to manage the forest with a shared vision.

Hyla Woods is a 1,000 acres forest land on the Oregon Coast that manages its land under FSC principles. FSC certification is not helping to provide premium prices for their products.

Issue: Not enough mill capacity in rural areas. Forests could be managed under restoration practices, providing small diameter logs (<10") from thinning to mills. There should be tax incentives for this mills to open.

Issue: Timber prices fluctuate a lot. How do you manage for the long term? Forests can be managed in multi treatment lots allowing for a diversification of products at extraction. Markets for small woods is starting to develop (i.e. Cross Laminated Timber CLT).

Forests on Fire: The Rising Costs of Action (and Inaction) Against 
The current low snow pack, potential storm tracks, and lightening could provide the perfect environment for a really bad fire season (costly, many fatalities, and high rate of injuries). Forest fires play an important ecological role, nevertheless they have been suppressed for decades, creating a purely reactionary management approach. Most of the budget is used to put out fires. Proactive forest fire management would entail conducting prescribed burns before fire season to reduce fuel accumulation in the forests, thinning, using fire models to prepare communities for fire season, and allowing fires to burn in the wild land and only fighting the ones close the urban interface. Allowing fires to burn could help restore ecosystems for the long run.

Keynote Interview REP. KURT SCHRADER, Congressman, 5th District of Oregon

Congressman Schrader is working on a bill that would treat and fund forest fires as any other natural disaster.

Lessons From John Day: The Pay-off and Promise of Collaborative Restoration Projects
"Collaboration that kept a John Day, Ore., mill open may be a model as industry, agencies and environmental groups strive for a forest policy that everyone can live with.

Working with the U.S. Forest Service, the Blue Mountains Forest Partners forged a 10-year agreement to restore 272,000 acres of the Malheur National Forest through thinning projects and other work. The work, funded by a $2.5 million allocation from USDA, provides logging and mill jobs, reduces fire danger and improves the ecosystem, panelists at the Forests and the Economy Symposium said." (Capital Press 2015) . The partnership was the outcome of many years of building trust among its partners.

International Fellows Reflections:

Sarita Lama from Nepal - Project / Understanding Forest Management Practices in the Pacific NW
Both the theory and experience show that, as a part of forest management practices, a prescribed forest fire not only effectively reduces burning severity, but also lessen a huge amount of fire-fighting cost.

Stuty Maskey from Nepal - Project / Use of Collaborative Governance to Manage Natural Resources

It was interesting to hear speakers from the government, non-profit, private sector and collaborative sharing information and knowledge on how ecology and economy could go hand in hand.
The panelist agree on the need for proactive fire-management methods such as prescribed burns rather than spending huge funds on reactive fire-control measures.
I was particularly impressed with the last session where the panel discussed about the case of ‘Blue Mountain Forest Collaborative’. A ‘collaborative’ is a policy experiment that thrives on partnering with stakeholders for planning and management of forests. They explained that in this case agencies, environmentalists, lawyers, private sector and other stakeholders worked together to save and or create jobs while mitigating the risks of fire and improving ecosystem. The result of this process was that that a mill that was near about collapsing, decided to make alternate business decisions and invest in newer facilities, diversifying their business portfolio to wood chips and compressed wood bricks, thereby helping them stay in business.

Robert Mijol from Malaysia- Project / Payments for Environmental Services
Sustainable forest management is very important, as stated by George McKinley, because it helps create a long term wood supply for investors and forest landowners to sustain economic and forest quality. Malaysia has implemented sustainable forest management for many years especially in what we call “forest reserves” in Sabah. The Sabah State Government has pledged that all Forest Management Units (FMUs) have to implement good forest practices to sustain the economic value and the forest quality. For example, Deramakot Forest Reserve was the first FMU certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) back in 1997. The area which covers 55,507 hectares (137,160.80 acres) of Mixed Dipterocarp Forest was managed to mimics natural processes for production of low volume, high quality, high priced timber products. Eighteen years later the Deramkot Forest Reserve is still highly productive, contributing with high quality timber to the local economy.

Miguel Sanchez from Bolivia - Project /  Forest Nurseries

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